So I’m always talking to friends who are Planning on travelling and they usually have a lot of questions about the planning process. So I thought I’d share with you my top Seven Do’s and Don’ts of travel planning as well as give you a glimpse into how I’m planning my next Trip. What does trip planning look like for me? Usually it's camping on the floor with the littles while I work. I research facts and try to include them in the planning process even if they're not going with me on a trip. As many of you know our children haven't traveled with us internationally yet but they still get to be involved in the planning process just as they are for our road trips. We look at the map and talk about the different cities and what each has to offer. They even get to help chose which sights we see.
Our twins will most likely be joining us for their first international trip in 2018 at age 7. You might be wondering why we haven't taken them with us yet and the simple answer is because of their physical capabilities. Our trips usually are nomadic in style meaning we travel to several cities in a short period of time and we pack a lot into each day. It's just not practical to expect young children to be able to keep that pace and still have a good time. That being said we do have a short list non-negotiable Do's and Don'ts that we incorporate into our planning.
Do:Research the area you’re going to. Knowing the basics of the culture, history, and surroundings is always a good thing to research. Additionally, you should look into current news even as far as following their local newsprints. Online versions of these are usually easily found and translated if necessary.
Don’t:Feel like you have to know everything about the city. While you want to have that basic knowledge and be up on current events. Leave some mystery to discover yourself while actually there and exploring.
Do: Know the national language for where you’re visiting. Locals really appreciate it if you can speak basic phrases in their native tongue. Some really handy phrases to know are “Do you speak English” (or whatever your native language is), “Thank you”, and “Please”. I also recommend being able to ask for directions to my hotel in the official language as well. Even if there’s a language barrier someone can usually help you out if you get lost as long as they know where you need to go.
Don’t: Fret if you’re not fluent. Google Translate is an amazing thing. You can simply type what you want to say into it and it’ll translate for whomever you’re speaking to with ease. Additionally, many countries teach English in school so chances are you’ll encounter someone with enough conversational use of the language to assist you with your needs.
Do: Pack according to the weather. One of the things that you should be researching would be the weather patterns. So be sure and pack weather appropriate items and perhaps an extra coat if where you’re going has a tendency to be rainy. A quick Google search will usually allow you to find a monthly list of average temperatures for easy planning.
Don’t: Over pack. You can fit everything you need into a carry-on. Trust me. You can do it! Many hotels offer free or cheap laundry services and packing mix-and-match items will allow you to avoid looking like you wore the same outfit the whole trip. By packing compactly you’ll have less to lug around and less to worry about if you have train rides, buses, or additional flights.
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Do: Pack pocket chargers. I cannot even begin to tell you how handy these are. If you’re using international data on your phone then chances are you’re in “Data Roaming” mode. It sucked the battery from my phone in hours. We would leave our hotel by 8am and by 11am I was hooked up to the pocket charger in my purse.
Don’t: Forget to keep them accessible and charged throughout the trip. I brought two along because I like to over prepare but they came in handy on the plane since I could charge my Kindle while my second charger was recharging. That way I was sure to always be prepared.
Do:Plan dates that you want to travel. If you’re like me, you’ll have to plan pretty far in advance for your trip. And while the idea of a spontaneous trip can sound fun and romantic, it would be difficult to pull off successfully and financially and still have an enjoyable trip. I prefer to go and get everything that I possibly can out of a trip and that’s hard to do spur of the moment.
Don’t:Set them in stone! Being flexible can be beneficial in the fact that you can play with your travel dates to find what’s going to be the most convenient for your personal schedule as well as what the cheapest flight and hotel nights will be.
|Tentative Itinerary for Spain 2017 trip|
Do: Plan an Itinerary. Have an outline for each day. Knowing what you want to get done will add some structure to your trip and make sure you get all of your “must see” list accomplished.
Don’t: Overwhelm yourself! How do I determine what our activities will be? First I make a list of things that I absolutely must see in each city and invite my husband to do the same. We then compare and narrow down the list. For instance if we both have an attraction listed then it goes to the top of our ”must” list. From there we choose only one attraction for each day. Otherwise you’re going to come home completely and utterly exhausted. Also, don't plan anything for the day you plan. We usually fly the cheapest flight and that means layovers which could have you looking at a 12+ hour flight. You're not going to want to land and hit the ground running. We like to get checked into our hotel and then wander about the streets to just get a general feel for the place before we start our itinerary.
Do: Experience the culture that you’re visiting and try new things. If you see local specialties on the menu, try them – sometimes it’ll be a disaster and other times it’ll be the best food all trip. Ask locals about the best places to eat in the area. Perhaps ask where some local marketplaces are. Often the cheapest and best souvenirs are those found outside of a gift shop and off the beaten path.
Don’t: Be afraid to explore and step outside of the “tourist zones”. That’s where the real culture is. Now that doesn’t mean you have to travel to remote villages. If you think about your own town, you’ll realize that the sights and shopping areas have a vibe all their own whereas there are smaller local spots that have a distinct feeling of home. Those are the areas you want to stumble upon on vacation.
|“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.” – Mark Twain|